Enslaved - Axioma Ethica Odini
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There are some truly ground-breaking albums that have been released in recent years. Take, for example, Opeth's monumental Blackwater Park. It was a masterful blending of death metal stylings with folk and prog. It introduced a whole new group of people to the band.
Axioma Ethica Odini should be right there next to it. While it may have yet to truly stand the test of time, I honestly believe that this, too, will be remembered as a ground-breaking album, a masterful melding of black metal with progressive rock/metal, that should introduce a whole new generation to this increasingly fascinating and brilliant band.
Picking right up where Vertebrae left off, Axioma Ethica Odini is replete with progressive rock/metal influences. In fact, I would say this is more of a progressive metal record with black metal influences, rather than the other way around. However, whereas the first thing from Vertebrae that struck me was how mellow the guitars were at times, AEO kicks it off from the very start with a full, powerful and distinctly metal sound to the guitars.
The opening track, "Ethica Odini" is a monster. It finely balances all of Enslaved's best characteristics. The careful, near equal balance of their harsh vocals with the fine clean singing is readily apparent. The guitar riffs are massive, juxtaposed to some calm, melodic moments. And it is suffused with a sense of the epic. From there on it never lets up. In fact, album closer, "Lightening" is one of the most epic tracks I have heard in a long time.
One of the most notable differences on AEO from their past two albums, Ruun and Vertebrae, is the sound of the guitars. They are up front, aggressive, powerful and full of kick. However, they are also very well used, never seeming brutal. Everything on this album speaks of the skill, artistry and love for their craft of the members of the band. The drumming is impeccable, the bass full and rich. Again, the clean singing is perhaps even more dominant here than on Vertebrae.
Final verdict: Adore it
Here it is folks. So far, Axioma Ethica Odini is the front runner from album of the year status. It will take a truly epic, monstrous and ground-breaking release in the next couple of months to topple this from the top spot. This album is just that good. It has just about everything I could ask for: a great, heavy sound, progressive song writing without pretension, flawless production, and a real sense of a love for the music. Don't let the harsh vocals turn you off, this album is fantastic. Time will tell if it ranks up there with the likes of Blackwater Park, but my gut says it will.